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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Some Thoughts on the (Problems of) Trotskyism


When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?"

-Allen Ginsburg (full text)

I'm posting this today to balance out yesterday's criticism of Anarchism. The deal with Trotskyism is this: The stuff Trotsky wrote is good and makes sense... Stalinism is clearly totally screwed up but that doesn't mean the revolutionary overthrown of capitalism is necessarily a bad idea. After all, how many hundred years of partially successful and failed bourgeois revolutions did it take to even establish today's basic capitalist democracies?

If this is the case, that "Trotskyism" represents a theoretical bridge to the pre-WWI generation of revolutionary socialists and attempts better than any one else to save it from the slander and lies of both Stalinist and Reformist "perversions" of marxism, then...

Why the hell is it that after all these years Trotskyist groups are still so small?

Why do they seem to split and quarrel with each other all the time?

Why have some "Trotskysists" been supportive of various clearly non-socialist, authoritarian governments?

"Trotskyism After Trotsky" is a good short book that was written by British socialist Tony Cliff in the late 1990s which attempts to answer these questions. It's a historical analysis of some of the problems this political tendency was from its inception beset with, which in many cases was never able to break out of.

"Trotskyism After Trotsky"

Start with the first, probably most important chapter: Chapter One: Recognizing the Problem

The Fourth International was founded just before the outbreak of World War Two as a revolutionary marxist association that opposed both Stalinism and Capitalism. However its membership was from the start confined to relatively small groups of people, as most socialist-minded workers and activists of the day were generally drawn to the larger and then-more prestigious Communist International (affiliated with "soviet" Russia) as well as Social-Democratic (reformist) parties of the day.

A major theoretical problem for this tendency presented itself immediately after the war when the economic collapse predicted by Trotsky did not occur, and regimes identical in structure to the Stalinist Soviet Union formed in the Russian- occupied, "Eastern Bloc" countries. Despite his harsh criticism of the tactics and rule of the Russian bureaucracy, Trotsky maintained to his death the hope that the Soviet Union could be reformed by a resurgence of worker militancy. The type of government represented by "Stalinism" was considered by him to be a "degenerated workers' state". Clearly, no bourgeoisie existed, so what else could it be called?

This ambiguous terminology was inadequate to describe the new societies in Eastern Europe. No workers' revolution had taken place... there was no "socialist" basis from which to degenerate. The Fourth International, a collection of various tiny groups, largely consisting of politically isolated individuals, and prone to splits and factionalism, was unable to come up with a solution to this theoretical problem.

Tony Cliff's political contribution was to write a book in 1948 called "The Class Nature of Stalinist Russia", which was later republished as "State Capitalism in Russia". Using a wealth of economic and social data, he argued that the bureaucracy collectively owned capital and related to the Russian working class in much the same way that individual Western capitalists related to their own workers.

An alternate theory that developed around the same time was that of Bureaucratic Collectivism. I read Cliff's book and it makes more sense to me than the Bureaucratic Collectivism theory does. How important is it to know which is a better theory? I'm not really sure. If you want to get all theoretical we could go to our books people wrote 50 years ago and pick up points and quote them... Though I'm not totally sure I care all that much about splitting hairs between the two to be honest.

Anyways, Cliff broke with the Fourth International and founded a small group around a newspaper in England, called the "Socialist Review" group. That went on to become the International Socialist Tendency which established branches in several different countries. The IST was able to enlarge itself during the 1960s and from the 1970s to the present, while much of the 60's Maoist and "Orthodox Trotskyist" groups have declined, the "International Socialists" actually grew (albiet modestly).

This all seemed fine and well.

But then, suddenly, the curse of Trotskyist splittery struck again. In the early 2000s there was a bit of a faction fight within the IST. The leading (British) group, the Socialist Workers' Party, felt that we were now in a period of "anticapitalist" upsurge. My understanding is they felt this meant it was time for socialists to throw themselves into the movement, with the task of building a separate socialist organization taking a backseat. The American member group, the International Socialist Organization, was expelled because it disagreed with this approach. A group called "Left Turn" split from the ISO and affiliated with the IST... and then quickly descended into a kind of amphorous, anarchisty, activist-movement magazine that lacked any definable ideological pedigree.

At the time of its writing the word "marxism" is absent from the Left Turn website. The British SWP seems to be in a bit of a crisis and has lost a lot of members, and the American ISO seems to have ridden up and down the past few years (membership wise) the same roller coster as the rest of the far left in this country. But they can consistently get over a thousand people to a great conference in Chicago each summer, and their publications, Socialist Worker, The International Socialist Review, and Haymarket Books look good and seem to be getting good distribution.

Personally my whole take on the "anticapitalism" thing is a bit ticked off. Why the heck did some British Trotskyists spend years of their lives building a modest but inviting and theoretically sound international grouping just to piss it away in a dumb disagreement on perspectives? That's crazy. Maybe they got old and were going to die soon so they substituted "wishful thinking" for a clear analysis of things. I don't know.

Do I think the "anti-Globalization" movement that got really visible with Seattle in 1999 was "anti-capitalist"? Heck no I don't. For starters if there are so many "anti capitalists" out there well where are they because I'd like to meet them! There were people in the anti-globalization movement who had an analysis of Capitalism and opposed it but they were a minority within a much broader movement consisting mostly of reformist NGOs, trade unions, and community groups. The organizations built by this movement seemed to almost completely disintegrate into silence in the face of the post 9-11 jingoism that swept the country. Pretty much the entire organized (and non) US left supported John Kerry in 2004 and more recently, Barak Obama in 2008. These were both pro-free market capitalist politicians who are just fine with imperial invasions of other countries. How is any of this evidence of a specifically "anti-capitalist" new mood?

Individual radicals exist who oppose capitalism, and with the economic crisis their numbers are increasing. But they are geographically and organizationally isolated and theoretically all over the place. One guy wears a "che" shirt, smokes pot, and protested the Democratic National Convention. Another protested Pelosi's votes for war but also gave money to Obama. A third starts a local zine on organic food production, while a fourth opens a "fair trade" coffee shop that can't afford to provide health insurance to its employees. Here and there small groups in different cities gather together to read some literature or discuss the economy... A new info shop or indymedia site appears and an art gallery has a "political" exhibit... Next week is perhaps the monthly meeting of the Green Party or Iraq Veterans Against the War...

There may be an "anti-corporate mood" now that is much wider than it was in 2000... but how deep is it? How many people today who are pissed off at AIG and the bailouts just think "greed" or underregulation, rather than the logic of capitalism itself, is The Problem? How many well meaning American reformers have no notion or care at all for the past 200 years of socialist ideological development and still look- much like the French Sans Coulettes- to the small businessman and the "middle" class (rather than the proletariat)- as society's potential savoirs?

That's not a movement. It's a broad ideological milieu for whom sustained activism on any campaign for any length of time is exceptional. It's a potential force that's currently unable to run candidates, or even compete with the corporate media for the "battle of minds", on anything more than a sporadic, local level.

Trotskyism is relevant because the idea of revolutionary parties is relevant. It's workers and owners, and right now the owners run the government, and they use it to send the workers to a lot of stupid, endless wars, and give tax payer money to bail out their rich corporate friends when their own greed explodes in everyone's face. At the same time they tell us that it's "too costly" to provide health care to people who need it.

A revolutionary restructuring of power makes sense. Greed has two political parties, a big state with a lot of prisons and weapons, and a media that always has their interests setting the agenda. We're going to need to take politics and organization seriously if we are to have any chance at all against it. For this reason Trotskyism is relevant today- despite the best efforts of so many Trotskyists to scare everyone else away from it!

Trotskyist groups in the US I like are the

International Socialist Organization



I also like this French one:

New AntiCapitalist Party

It's a merger between the Trotskyist "League Communiste Revolutionare" and other forces on the left.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Some Thoughts on Anarchism

Some thoughts on Anarchism...

Inspired by a question from Mr. French who also does the In the Name of the Emperor blog.

There are different kinds of anarchists. There are "class struggle" anarchists who read history and theory and are involved with grass roots campaigns and organizations in their community and have a vision for real change. There are also punk rock kids who call themselves anarchists but disdain any kind of sustained involvement in anything. "Lifestyle Anarchism" was an attractive pull for a lot of people during the economic boom when all radical ideas were marginalized and the level of struggle was really low. Like support for the democratic party its prevalence I think was symptomatic of the relative confusion and under confidence of Lefties for a long time.

Murry Bookchin writes some things I don't agree with but his "Social Anarchism vs Lifestyle Anarchism" is a great, short book. I'd like to buy copies of it and give it to every punk rocker I see... But there are a lot of things I'd like to buy..

In general though I think anarchism is theoretically mushy. You can't abolish all authority in a revolution because you are going to face a bloodthirsty counter-revolution ( 1, 2, 3 ) and you are going to need to organize your own defences, which means the planned centralization and coordination of armed force. The "Anarchist" conception of (most preferably "non-violent") revolution, that it just "happens" all at once, that counter-revolution isn't a concern, and that efficient organization should be disdained in favor of interminable debates and the "freedom" of everyone to shirk whatever decisions the majority decides in favor of, is empty phrasemongering. It sounds good only insofar as a revolution never actually happens to put these ideas to the test.

In everyday society, you need authority. ...

Authority needs to be in the hands of democratically elected and recallable bodies and persons and its decisions need to be based on the freest and broadest discussion, but if we work at a hospital, we need a certain number of doctors every day to help the patients. If we schedule a doctor and he doesn't feel obliged by the "authoritarianism" of the scheduler to show up for work, and people die because there is no one there to help them, the staff of the hospital, through a meeting or through an elected scheduler, needs the authority to fire this guy.

Authority doesn't cause oppression. I am a bartender. I have the "authority" to give drinks away for free or to charge people for them. The economy is bad so I charge everyone for drinks. If I give drinks away for free to every alcoholic on east colfax, or if I don't even show up and let the alcoholics decide for themselves whether or not to pay, our restaurant will go broke and 9 people will be out of a job. There is nothing oppressive about me being a bartender. Except perhaps for the fact that it's been really hard lately for me to get a day off.

Only with the development of class society, where it is possible to accumulate and store a surplus of wealth over what you are immediately able to consume, that "authority" arises as a problematic source of contention. Who has the authority to consume, own, or distribute things? When we all worked as hunter-gatherers & small scale farmers, it was pretty basic. All of us helped to make / obtain this food, so we all share in eating it, and we all are involved in making decisions about it.

Today it's very different. The people who own and control the economy aren't the ones actually working to make it function. Bill Gates is rich because he OWNS... he doesn't even write the programs, and he certainly doesn't work "billions of times" harder than the people who do. Ownership is divorced from the act of producing. "Property" retains a social base for its creation but the right to its appropriation is alienated, bought and sold, inherited, or just gambled away, over the heads and without any input from the vast majority of producers.

The ones who own want to keep their billions in the bank account instead of giving it to, say, homeless veterans so they could buy some food. They hire police to periodically arrest any homeless veterans who might to try to "steal" some bit of accumulated wealth (in food form or otherwise) that other people (say, a grocery store) have but are not using...

The "state" emerges to embody and regulate this authority and keep the appropriation of wealth, food, etc... within the boundaries prescribed by capitalists, through their setting of wages at the bare minimum necessary to keep someone alive... while the remainder after costs goes to the profits of the owners.... But "authority" itself ... isn't the cause of the problems, any more than "wood" growing in a forest is responsible for cracking a protester's skull. It's the priorities of capitalism that decided to cut down that tree and build police batons, rather than houses or bridges or schools, with it.

I think people just call themselves "anarchists" without any serious examination of the ideology's flaws because 1) official "socialism" was discredited for many by Social Democracy and Stalinism. And 2) young American politicos today have commitment issues and don't want to invest the time and effort it takes to build sustainable, nation-wide organizations. People would rather just 'do their thing' on a local scale, whenever they feel like it... It's easier to say "political parties are bad" than it is to actually build one. So be a periodic activist whenever you want, but don't bother networking with others across the country in any organized or sustained way. Just call yourself an "anarchist" and you'll have a lot more free time. At heart I really feel the Anarchist arguments against the radical left organizing itself into some kind of party- be it more theoretically coherent such as the Trotskyist groups (1, 2 ) have been, or even looser like the French New Anticapitalist Party, doesn't originate from the pre-existing "fact" that "parties are always bad and corrupt". I think "parties are always bad and corrupt" is an excuse underconfidence can come up with while balking before the great and arduous task of actually building such an organization.

In a more benign way, it makes sense that "Anarchism", or its "libertarian" variant, would be the easiest "radical" ideology to emerge from within the US, where the "Free" values of capitalism are so consistently propagated. There is a great scene in the otherwise terrible film "The Anarchist Cookbook" where in a conversation The Anarchist discovers he can't find any source of disagreement between his own beliefs and that of his Republican, pro-free market employer.

If you take away the talk about class struggle, labor organization, the material roots of oppression, and wealth re-distribution, all you are left with is mushy talk about "freedom" and "liberty" that anti-immigrant, anti- welfare capitalists such as Ron Paul will be among the first to agree with.

In personal experiance I've met and worked with some great people who called themselves "anarchists" but were among the most consistent and self-disciplined activists of anyone. I used to consider myself an "anarchist" when I like 15 or 16 when it was fashionable to do so. The other punks and I just called ourselves that to thumb our noses at authority, but not because it actually made sense to us as a working concept for revolutionary change. But if the limits of your "activism" are getting drunk by the train tracks at night, and perhaps putting a red star sticker on your car or patch on your jacket, you don't exactly need a "working concept for revolutionary change".

I've also worked along some "anarchists" who've been terrible people, who redbait me and anyone else they don't like instead of having a serious and respectful discussion on the matters at hand. I'm sure plenty of police provocateurs and movement spies call themselves "anarchists" in order to sow dissension and victimization among movements. I've also worked with some anarchists who fetishize "consensus" in a way that is simply contemptuous of working class people's lives. It's pretty much just middle class people who have the time in the day to endlessly analyze things from every angle to the point where meetings that start at 7pm end at 11 or 12. If you have a kid or you work two jobs or even one that takes a lot of hours, that is making an unwelcoming environment.

The only "consensus" based groups I've ever been in that were at all functional violated the premise of "consensus" decision making by actually taking votes on key matters. Groups where consensus was fetishized to be observed at all times basically ment that unless the one guy who really likes "consensus" gets what he wants, he is going to keep us all there as long as it takes until we go along with him. That is ridiculous.

At its best I think small communities of Anarchists attempt to develop the repressed human values of sharing, tolerance, compassion, and humanity that capitalism tries to make us forget. This is nice... but developing small benevolent communities isn't the same thing as changing society on a macro-economic, national, or international scale. Capitalism isn't structured locally... fighting it will need to take this into consideration. I think the point is to build a kind of society where such values are able to flourish. Focusing too much on just trying to create them within one tiny area today pretty much writes off most of the country, where you're doing nothing to contest the rule of the republicrats, Wal Mart, and all the rest of it.

Without a fundamental change in the material conditions of existance under which most people have to live... I do think it is Utopian to think "ideas" and "examples" alone could eliminate the crime, abuse, jealously, selfishness, etc... that poverty brings.

If you want to eat out of a trash can, hitch hike, train hop, play the guitar in the desert, live with a lot of friendly but messy roommates, and occasionally protest injustice, Anarchism is a great philosophy that will probably be able to fulfill most of your requirements. If you are interested in your life having a more permanent and sustained impact upon the rest of society, I suggest you look elsewhere.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Impressions, April 2009.... Embracing the Horror

Those nice kids in Ft Collins in a Metal Band the world has seen before and will see again. Industrial clothes from the 1990s. Fishnets and gas masks and long haired friendly guys. Underage goth chicks with makeup. That lady talking about sex with models. We are all musicians. The friend who lived in New York and started to like it. Would you like to smoke a clove cigarette in the parking lot of this grill and bar with live music where the Indians once hunted the Buffalo?

That librarian who reads me stories.

There is a drunk twenty-something asleep in a car outside of your house where children play and neighborhood ordinances oblige you to mow the lawn. Vomiting. A guitar in a car. The strength to endure the dreams of young Americans getting less young and throwing themselves at you. We doubled our income by getting a hotter merch girl.

Two rocks in your left shoe in the bathroom at the Safeway with a Starbucks whose black coffee is undrinkable. Beef is cheap and big. The rain brings green grass in the high desert. The great plains and the place to drive off-road vechicles through trails carved out of prarie dog. Someone has a job to mow the green grass in front of the strip mall in the high desert. They are going to Dam the Cache La Poudre River so you can have a job building a lawn mower to cut the green grass in front of a strip mall in a high desert.

You're laid off, here is a sharpie and a piece of carboard. Go find an intersection with a traffic light and start talking about God. That Iraq Vet has a substance abuse problem. She doesn't look as good with her clothes taken off.

People who make ends meet have more than one job. People whose cell phones get turned off don't have any jobs. People who go out to eat whenever they want and order whatever they want and drink heartily and wear nice clothes and gaze into each others' eyes are mysterious.

Instead of helping kids with homework or asking about their day parents are always single and they get extra jobs. Rich idealists from Vail approach the Mississippi delta with colonial intentions. Low wage fuckups and refugees from decaying industry seek asylum in the teaching profession. Teachers are hired on the basis of their willingness to work for free as unpaid social workers so parents can work extra jobs for low wages as corporations report record profits and rich shareholders value their "democratizing" influence in the economy. Teachers don't go out with their husbands because they are tired. What America really needs right now is 10-15 extra unpaid hours of work a week for teachers who wake up at 6 am and are too tired to go out with their husbands. Otherwise they are selfish, badddddd, teachers. Who should be paid less. My company lost billions of dollars of money that never actually existed. We are "too big to fail". Give me money you fucking taxpayers. How dare you question my existence.

The court TV program is loud at the laundromat. Are its decisions really legally binding? Are those actors getting paid to debase themselves or are ordinary people so desperate they are signing up for that kind of stuff? Guys in their 40s are on social networking sites offering money and shelter to young women with ex-husbands in exchange for sex. A gay teenager just committeed suicide and your step dad is an abusive Christian Fundamentalist.

We need more troops. The national guard recruiting ad has pictures of people helping out flood victims. You need to work for free as an unpaid apprentice for 60 hours a week. You didn't finish college, but at least you can invest a few more thousand dollars into some real estate job, training, and a license before you start to get paid some months from now. No one gets paid to train at a job anymore.

Make sure those limes aren't dry. God damn it if there is one thing we don't need right now it's dry limes stuck on the rim of a plastic cup with iced tea in it. Let's get some fresh limes. Wet in their own juice, for a Change I Can Believe In.

I expect a 3.5 star level of service at the 2 star restaurant I can now afford to eat at. I don't care if you are the only person here. It's very important for you to tell me about Specials your cook doesn't have while you're answering the phone to take a delivery order as that other guy's food gets cold sitting on the counter in the kitchen that doesn't have heat lamps. There is a new payroll company and I anticipate "excitement" when the checks Finally Arrive. The sky is grey and the leaves are dead and the birds are grey or black and flying away from me.

Shower or sleep? Sleep or eat? Eat or shower?

Miley has a new blog. She put pictures up on myspace. She is talking about stuff. Holy shit. I want to fuck that sixteen year old. Put some more lipstick on, baby.

You're hair is thinning and you live in this suburb. You are thinking about deviant sex. Sex with the wrong gender. Abusive sex. You want to hit people with your hand because people have hit you with their hands and with their words your whole life. No one cares about your day. Your day doesn't matter. MILEY's day mattes you fucking retard. You can pay some guy to hear about your day and analyze your pathologies. Even give you some more perscription drugs to pass into the next city's water supply. But health insurance doesn't sign up people with pre-existing mental problems.

A serial killer from the internet nicknamed "Giggles". A Christian security guard at a strip mall from the early 2000s who used to go to swingers' nights. Punk rockers spray painting obsenities in the parking lot. Nostalgia... what are we doing with our lives?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Obama Flips the Script on Single Payer

April 21, 2009
Obama Cowers Before Insurance Industry
Code Red for Single Payer


Many activists have worked tirelessly for decades to win single payer, aka national health insurance, aka Medicare for all. Rallies, letters to legislators, binding and non-binding referenda in many states have all been tried. The one clear result is that 66 per cent of the public now favors single payer. The battle of ideas has been won. And now at this moment of opportunity when the health care system is in a very deep crisis with increasing numbers unemployed and hence in need of health insurance, all may be lost – and that due to the very man, Barack Obama, whom so many of these same activists worked so hard to elect. Such a betrayal is breathtaking.

Obama betrays single-payer movement to insurers.

At the White House Conference on Health Care Reform several weeks back Obama made it abundantly clear that single-payer was off the table. Not so much as one single payer advocate was invited while the room was stuffed to the gills with representatives of the insurance industry and CEO’s of every stripe. Several weeks earlier at a White House meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. John Conyers, the author of H.R. 676, the House single-payer bill asked Obama if he might attend along with a physician advocate of single-payer. In an email reply, Obama said no.

In response Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) and other organizations threatened a demonstration of docs in white coats in front of the White House on the day of the conference. Obama quickly reversed himself and admitted Conyers and PNHP president, Dr. Oliver Fein, to the conference. So far so good. The threat was an exercise in power and it worked. It also demonstrates that Obama does respond to pressure - but not to polite requests. Very important.

However, Obama also made it clear Conyers and Fein were to sit down and shut up, unlike Karen Ignani, spokesperson for the insurers who was a prominent speaker,. Unfortunately Fein and Conyers obeyed. In my estimation, this was a mistake as was the decision to cancel the demonstration without gaining more from Obama. Imagine if Dr. Fein had spoken up; imagine if he had to be forcibly excluded from the conference. Single payer would have been put before the nation right then and there. The admission of Fein and Conyers to the forum has been presented as a victory and I suppose it was a small and partial one. But it was certainly a lesson, one that should not be forgotten or have to be relearned.

Obama has organized a series of regional health care forums and at none of them have single payer advocates been invited to address the room or join the discussion – the forums are by invitation only. I was part of a single-payer demonstration at the one for New England in Vermont hosted by Obama’s buddy, Mass governor Duval Patrick. As at the White House, some single-payer advocates managed to get in but they did not challenge Patrick or by extension Obama. With two hundred others we demonstrated outside for single payer. I was bowled over when the principal physician speaker at the demonstration proclaimed, “President Obama is on our side. But he cannot put his foot in the water for us because it is shark infested.” As she explained, the sharks in this case are the insurers. Is that not another way of saying that Obama has sold out to the insurers?

Our group joined the demonstration with a banner reading:

On Single Payer.
2003: “It’s the Best.”
2009: Get Lost. (1)

And so it is. Obama rose to prominence in Chicago in part by pledging to labor and to prominent activists, like national PNHP coordinator, the wise and witty Dr. Quentin Young, once upon a time Obama’s personal physician, that he was committed to single payer. And you can be sure that Obama was thoroughly educated by Quentin Young on single-payer. But Young somewhat ruefully admitted to Amy Goodman that Obama was “dishonest” on single-payer (2). That is another word for liar. And here is Dr. David Himmelstein, a founder of PNHP and one of its leading thinkers, on Obama: “The President once acknowledged that single payer reform was the best option, but now he’s caving in to corporate healthcare interests and completely shutting out advocates of single payer reform,” Himmelstein said. “The majority of Americans favor single payer….” And yet if one looks at the PNHP web site home page there sits a picture of Obama embracing Quentin Young. Strange tribute to a sworn adversary, but a sign of confusion about Obama that reigns in all too many quarters.

So let us be clear. Obama is not on the side of single-payer – far from it. He has actively sought to remove it from public consideration. It may be hard for some to see Obama as the enemy since he is an appealing persona, a physically attractive man in appearance and speech, a politician of color, and one who looks especially good after years of Bush. But the Bush standard is a low bar indeed, and persona is no substitute for policy. Health care reform is not a matter to be judged according to the values of People magazine or by wishful thinking or a desire to be “part of the crowd”; it is a life and death matter for millions of people in this country.

How to win the Medicare-like option in the Obama plan. Make the perfect the ally of the apparent good.

Some now argue that Obama must be supported, because he will include a public sector, Medicare-like option for everyone in his “reform” plan. The insurers will not be able to compete, or so goes the argument, and hence they will eventually be driven from the scene. So do not give Obama too much flack, we are told. However, it is unclear whether this option is presented by Obama in a serious way. Jack Beatty of the Atlantic said on April 17 on NPR that the White House is sending out signals it is backing off this option in the face of insurance industry opposition. And the Wall Street Journal and others are already assailing this option as a disguised assault on the health insurance industry and the American free enterprise system and liberty itself.

Let us suppose that you are a supporter of this public sector, Medicare-like option and that you are interested in the tactics to win it. What is the best path? I submit that the best path is an all-out battle for single payer. In that way, the public sector option is the compromise position between all-out insurance company domination and single-payer. It permits politicians who might want single payer to say to the insurers: “Give me this public sector option, because I need to give my constituents that - at the very least.” It is horse trading, of course – but that is what tactical politics is all about. In other words the perfect can well be the ally of the apparent good – to alter a well-worn phrase used to discredit single payer. To give up on single payer or to fight for it half-heartedly will only make the eventual outcome worse. And of course this strategy also opens the possibility that single-payer might prevail. And would that not be sweet.

So job one now is to get single-payer back on the table. This will not be easy. In some sense we are now in a worse state now than we were in the early 90s when the Clintons raised the issue of health care reform. At that time there was much debate about single payer, and the newspapers were filled with charts comparing it to the convoluted plans put forward by the Clintons. Obama has been much more successful in serving the insurance industry and paralyzing the single-payer movement than the Clintons ever dreamed of.

Now the question is how to get single payer back on the table. It would be a profound mistake to see the main effort as educational. Single payer, aka Medicare for All, is easily understood; and 67 per cent of the American people already support it. The battle of ideas has been won. Now we must win the political battle. And that cannot involve polite discourse alone. Obama needs his progressive base to win election again – as do many congress members. Simply put, we must tell Obama and company that this base will desert them if we get only McCain lite from them. That is the key; without that we have no leverage.

Militancy will be necessary. Non-violent civil disobedience must be considered. Congressional offices and Obama appearances must be targeted for forceful and plain-spoken demonstrations – not polite tete a tetes out of the public view. And there is urgency to this. The Congresspeople and the president must be put on notice that we will not support them if they do not meet our demands. No more Mr. Nice Guy on the movement’s part.

Many people have worked for many decades trying to win single-payer. What a tragedy it would be if we allowed ourselves to be diverted by a deceptive Messiah at a moment of possible breakthrough. Both PNHP and are willing to continue the battle, but too many others are not. This must change. The specifics of the struggle will demand imagination, militancy and more. But if we do not fight, we surely will not win.

John Walsh is an activist in PNHP. He also ran for Congress twice in the early 90s on a single-payer platform, inter alia, but lost each time by about 1 million ….dollars. He can be reached at


For picture see:
2. You can also get a link to Obama’s 2003 speech praising single-payer to an AFL-CIO meeting in Chicago.

The Day of the Snow

It snowed yesterday night. Big rain turning into fat chunks of snow. Now the snow is melted and it is sunny again.

That's a really beautiful picture... it's actually from the snow storm a few weeks ago, but it makes sense to post now.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Day of the Cloud

My desire to make this blog daily is hampered by my lack of reliable internet at home. The good news, however, is that I just uploaded MANY pictures.

These are the pictures from the big cloud that happened a few weeks ago.

This is how it looked outside of my window

I went to Park Ave to get a better look. Then that instant of glow happened when the sunsets turned clouds pink!

We think it has a mouth that looks like a fish!

It made the building scary!

Ok that last one was obviously touched up but the other two were totally natural. That is really how it looks!

What stinks is that there are often buildings in the way of sunsets and being on the Eastern slope means the mountains block the final minutes when sunset is most spectacular, and the horizon which stretches far from north to south and east doesn't go west very far. That is a shame. But the city is still a better city than most other ones I know about so I will put up with that for now.

More stuff to come: How to Make Soup, How to Make Rolls, The Scary Trees of the Great Plains, some insane mumblings about Ft Collins and education and the general exploitation of everyone, and other stuff.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mexico, Drugs, and the Hypocrisy of Gun Control

The supply of ammunition is running out.

Not for me, but for the military, and for the guys with “black rifles” who like to fantasize about The Day. Ever since the election, due to fear of tighter gun control laws, demand on the civilian market for .223 caliber ammunition has exploded. That's the stuff that comes out of several legally scrutinized, fun, and/or scary weapons like the Mini-14 and AR-15. It also goes in the M-16 that our military uses but they call it "5.56 mm".

According to no less reputable source than the newsletter,

"Just prior to the presidential election waiting time for large orders of .40 S&W and .223 ammo was just 90 days. Now the wait time can be as much as six months or more. Meaning orders placed today will likely be delivered in the fall or even into 2010... As one supplier recently reported, the normal inventory of many millions of rounds has been 95 % percent depleted."

Here's a Guardian article that says the same thing.

If you think it is a little disconcerting that the one part of the economy that is doing very well right now is the one that sells weapons and ammunition designed to efficiently kill people- you're right.


Can someone please tell me why the do people like Hillary Clinton and others who have hopped on the "gun control" bandwagon in recent years think it's ok to lecture and pass laws against the private ownership of these weapons- the registered versions of which are quite rarely used to commit crimes- while she has absolutely no problem at all voting to kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqi, Afghan, and Palestinian civilians with the same bullets?

Consider for a moment the arms deals that our government officially participates in. According to the GAO, that's roughly $11 billion a year in exports to other countries. The Congressional Research Service acknowledges that from 2000-2007 government- to government arms contracts between the United States and the developing world made up for 66.6% of all such transfers. "We're number one!"

Check out the above link and scroll down to page 47. See anything unusual? How about the names of some of those countries? Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Eremites, Singapore? That's right. We sell guns to hereditary monarchies and military dictatorships to keep them in power.

Depending on your definition of "Democracy" Israel can certainly be added to the above list. Over the past few years of invasions, bombings, assassinations, and occupation, the number of civilian deaths they have inflicted in Gaza and the West Bank are THOUSANDS of times higher than any domestic American deaths due to semi-automatic rifles. So where's the clamor to ban arms sales to Israel?

Apparently no one in either Republican or Democratic parties sees anything fundamentally wrong with this. Certainly, such shady dealings went up under George Bush, but this increase was marginal compared to the already high level under which it proliferated during the last Democratic Administration. In fact, until 2003, arms transfer agreements had actually dropped somewhat since Hillary was a resident of the White House. In 2000, Clintonian America made agreements to sell 45 billion dollars worth of weapons to the rest of the world.

Despite all our talk about bravely standing up to “rouge states” and limiting the spread of “weapons of mass destruction”, what you’ll never hear from any mainstream politician is that the top five countries profiting from the international arms trade are the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: the USA, UK, France, Russia, and China. Furthermore it is with such “small arms” weapons that most human rights atrocities over the past several decades have actually been carried out.

Actual statistics are shocking. They clearly prove that the whole "Assault Weapons" talk is designed not to actually reduce the number of people killed due to various crimes, but to make voters (falsely) feel safer while helping unscrupulous politicians get elected.

For example, in the four years since the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired on September 15, 2004, at least 163 people have been killed and 185 wounded with military-style semiautomatic assault weapons. Compare that to the total of 30,694 gun deaths in the U.S for the year of 2005 alone!

The overwhelming majority of these deaths were due to handguns- which aren't affected by the "Assault Weapons" bans.

The context of Hillary's recent comments in favor of strengthening such bans is equally disturbing. The unsubstantiated yet recently cited statistic by the "Gun Control" crowd is that "90%" of the weapons being used by Mexican drug gangs goes to them through the US. That statistic itself is suspect, but the debate around it misses the point. Just doing a better job enforcing existing laws- and putting more people in jail- is not the solution.

To ban gun sales- from any country- to Mexico is about as futile as trying to ban drug sales from Mexico to the US. Like the related issue of immigration, the parable of "taller fences lead to taller ladders" applies. In the Columbian jungles right now they are building submarines to bring drugs to the US (1, 2, 3). They could tighten the border to the point where arms dealers have to resort to measures as extreme as this, but if the market was willing to pay (as it certainly is), what would be the point?

Drug violence in Mexico is a predictable result of two things. The first is that for thousands of years human beings have from time to time indulged in the recreational use of mind altering substances, and Americans living in the 21st century are no different. The second is what NAFTA and associated free trade agreements have done to the Mexican economy.

All the focus on the border itself obscures the broader economic and social policies (of the US) that have made immigration or the drug trade appear one of the few profitable alternatives for Mexicans contemplating a future of unemployment and starvation, or Maquiladora semi-slavery.

When NAFTA was passed, millions of Mexican farmers lost their jobs when they could no longer compete with the (heavily subsidized) prices of imported American corn. Later they had food riots when these companies found out it was more profitable to turn their produce into ethanol than it was it feed people.

The Obama Administration rushes millions of dollars to Improve Border Security, as well 1.4 billion to better arm and train the Mexican Army. These militaristic responses to broader social and economic problems have much in common with the failed, "tough" government policy on crime over the past several decades. As I have written elsewhere,

The world isn't a totally polite one where people in a war torn country with a collapsed economy just patiently bide their time, slowly starving, while their ignored pleas for economic justice get politely submitted to the UN. That isn't how it works.

If you take away a people's ability to honestly and legally provide for themselves, they will most likely pursue *some other* way to provide for themselves. That's what happened in inner cities in America when manufacturing jobs were outsourced and "white flight" destroyed the tax bases school budgets come from. You saw a rise in crime and drug pushing. People looked into a bad situation and chose whatever option appeared the most realistic.

The same thing happened in Mexico and the rest of Latin America. The US totally screwed Mexico's economy with NAFTA, which resulted in a lot of people (mostly farmers) loosing their jobs. In El Salvador, Guatemala, Columbia, and elsewhere, we've backed brutal governments who repressed popular uprisings and created major refugee situations. Now when some of those people come to the US looking for a job, they are "criminals".

But the weapons contractors who got rich selling guns to dictators, and the American agricultural giants whose imports threw Mexican farmers out of work... have never served a day in jail, or even been a featured target of Lou Dobbs or any of the other demagogues.

In the past year the number of drug related deaths in Mexico have been over twice as high as the number of Americans killed on September 11th. Yet today our "Gun Control" advocates have no problem arming this oligarchy to shoot its citizens when they start selling or smuggling drugs in an attempt to feed themselves.

There really is no difference between what an American smuggler buying several semi-automatic AR-15s to drive into Mexico and sell is doing, and what the American government is doing by selling several thousand fully automatic M-16s to different people in the same country. In Mexico today, without a program of economic development that puts human need ahead of super profits for the few, neither arms dealer is going to be able to decisively influence the outcome of the drug war, and allow one side to "win" over the other. Most likely neither really care, as long as there is a short term payoff- be it in votes or in cash.

The only way to effectively reduce the level of drug related violence on the border today is to do exactly what we did to reduce the power of American gangsters in the 1920s during prohibition. Legalize and regulate drugs. Take production and profits out of the hands of gangsters. Let's get our heads out of the sand and honestly acknowledge that most of us could get whatever drugs we might want already, and that the costs to society of putting hundreds of thousands of people into prisons for non-violent drug use, and thousands more in coffins for drug violence, are higher than the costs of legalization.

While we're at it let's lower the drinking age to 18. Our kids are going to consume alcohol and drugs no matter what we say. If we truly love them we need to make sure they know how to handle these things responsibly. If someone does have a drug problem, we need needle exchange programs, methadone clinics, outreach, and compassion. How many more countries do we need to illegally invade and unsuccessfully occupy before we realize that guns can’t solve all our problems, and that a free society doesn't need to be ruled by them?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mysticism, Paranoia, This Blog, Brakes, gee whiz!

I've decided I'm going to try and make this blog updated daily. Each week I'm coming up with a plan for several articles and then I will post one a day. They will continue to combine sharp political analysis, practical living suggestions, tales of the great out doors, musical and physical art, and personal updates.

So far this week we have:

-Getting the breaks fixed
-Gun Control, Texas, and Education
-How to Bake Breakfast Chocolate - Pecan Rolls
-How to make Soup
-The Day of the Cloud
-Punk Rock Story

If you like this stuff please leave comments because in the absence of getting paid to do anything artistic, musical, or literary, comments are pretty nice.

It's like this....

"Just Brakes" will give you new brake pads for $99.

I went to them instead of having my co-worker's brother just put on store bought brake pads because the undercarriage has had various disconcerting squeeks since Ashville in January 2008, and sometimes it feels like it doesn't brake fast enough. So I wanted to have the experts look at things.

Anyways, things were fixed and money was paid and man, I'm sorry to rain on these guy's parade, but mechanics are wayyyyy too much overpaid.

The fun part is watching the overpaid mechanic brew more coffee without taking off his oil stained work glove as he rummages about the filters and spoons in the grounds.

The not fun part is that it the weather says it will be a big snow storm, with possibly a foot in Denver by tomorrow.

Of course a new brake system takes a while to adjust, so you have to take it easy on the brakes, and they don't brake as fast. So.....

What are the odds that I will have just thrown this money at the brakes, and then tomorrow in the snow the brakes are weak and there is a wreck and the car dies and all that money has been wasted? This is the kind of world we live in, people. That shit happens in recessions!

There are good things, and we have to make lists of good things. Is it just me or is it that good things just come and go lightly off your mind, but the bad ones stay, dwelling and festering? What the hell?

Not as single spies but in battalions. That's how trouble is looking now. I mean, look at Amanda- she's one of the sweetest, nicest people in the world! Hear how she says words like "Prarie Dog Town" all slow and sweet! She is from Wyoming and is going to be a tattoo artist! Isn't that Adorable?

Well, her cd player AND her bike just got stolen, at the SAME TIME!

I don't think Republicans and the global financial elite are intelligent enough to sow this much terrible luck on this many people at the same time. I think they are getting help. From the Evil Spirits. That's right. Evil Spirits. It's the only logical explanation I can think of. They've definately been in the car ever since the oil pan cracked. I don't know where Amanda's came from, but I think mine came from the South Platte river.

Our plan is that if we have a campfire and mezcal we can burn them out, scare them away, or something. It's either that or drink pbr at dollar tacos and ask the geese in the park what they think. If you know anything about the ceremonies or rites to deal with this kind of thing, please let me know!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Comment on the Pro- Pirate Article

1) the article is right to point out that it's not as simple as just "bad pirates" vs "good Western shipping companies and associated militaries".

2) The accusation about the dumping of nuclear waste needs to be backed up to be taken seriously

3) I don't think our military has brought a happy ending to anywhere since 1945. Why would it be any different here? East Africa has more than enough guns and missiles already. It's going to take more than that to create alternatives to piracy for its people.

The article is here:

My comment is here:

The article is good, but the illegal waste dumping thing is a pretty serious allegation. The author needs more than one quote from one guy to make that appear creditable.

The criticism of this article, that "just because your fish was all stolen by European trawlers doesn't justify you attacking large freighters which didn't themselves have anything to do with stealing your fish" seems to make sense to me.

However, people who have chosen to utter it ad nauseum in the "comments" section below the article have apparently forgotten that the world isn't a totally polite one where people in a war torn country with a collapsed economy just patiently bide their time, slowly starving, while their ignored pleas for economic justice get politely submitted to the UN. That isn't how it works.

If you take away a people's ability to honestly and legally provide for themselves, they will most likely pursue *some other* way to provide for themselves. That's what happened in inner cities in America when manufacturing jobs were outsourced and "white flight" destroyed the tax bases school budgets come from. You saw a rise in crime and drug pushing. People looked into a bad situation and chose whatever option appeared the most realistic.

The same thing happened in Mexico and the rest of Latin America. The US totally screwed Mexico's economy with NAFTA, which resulted in a lot of people (mostly farmers) loosing their jobs. In El Salvador, Guatemala, Columbia, and elsewhere, we've backed brutal governments who repressed popular uprisings and created major refugee situations. Now when some of those people come to the US looking for a job, they are "criminals".

But the weapons contractors who got rich selling guns to dictators, and the American agricultural giants whose imports threw Mexican farmers out of work- and then into the streets to riot for food when it became more profitable to turn corn into ethanol- have never served a day in jail, or even been a featured target of Lou Dobbs or any of the other demagogues.

The crisis in Somalia, in the 'Democratic' Republic of the Congo, in Afghanistan, and in many other places, are mostly due to the interference of Cold War rivalries. We give weapons and training to very dubious parties (ex Mobutu in Zaire, or Islamic Fundamentalists in Afghanistan in the 80s) when they are killing our enemies, but when they start killing civilians in order to solidify their rule, we ignore it.

The amount of civilians killed by future members of the "Northern Alliance" when they shelled Kabul in the mid 90s is higher than the number of people killed in Sarajevo when the Serbs were shelling it. But apparently this wasn't newsworthy, and it would have been more than a bit embarrassing for the US to have to step in to disarm people it had previously backed.

The same thing happened in Somalia. Ruler Siad Barre was at first friendly to the Soviet Union. Then the USSR changed its mind and decided to back Ethiopia in 1977 when they and Somalia were fighting. So the dictator of Somalia became the US's ally instead and we gave this guy millions of dollars to keep him in power. Eventually people became fed up with him running their country and a terrible civil war developed as different parties attempted to replace him.

American weapons and foreign policy is one of the main REASONS so much of the rest of the world is a war torn, fucked up place. Was it not a former ally- Osama Bin Laden- who came back to haunt us in 2001? When you're the one holding the hammer a lot of things start to look like nails... but brute force alone isn't solving the world's problems- especially when the people in charge of that force tend to be an elitist, parasitic, and arrogant lot whose records have shown precious little concern for the lives of anybody daring to be born brown or poor.

Sending in the Navy, SEALS teams, the Air Force, or whoever else as some kind of a "solution" for the problem of East African instability makes about as much sense as building inner city prisons instead of schools, or giving the Mexican oligarchy guns to fight a brutal drug war instead of the tools to build a sustainable, pro- human economy. This article has some problems but it's got more good points than bad ones. I'd like to thank the SF Bay View for having the guts to actually raise the harder social questions. Our country and our empire is collapsing. The screeches of discredited imperialism now emanating from the media and the White House have nothing positive to offer the people of Somalia or the United States. It's time to end the war- not to start another one.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I am apparently still doing this

"Mood Music for a Dying Age"

No idea why... but it sounds pretty. Good for cocktail parties, wedding receptions, industrial dance clubs, and seducing people.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Funker Vogt at Trax in Denver, April 10 2009

Awesome show! My review is here:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My editorial to the Denver Post regarding education cuts

Dear Denver Post,

I have been following with alarm the Colorado state legislature's proposal for extensive cuts to funding for higher education. I don't understand why this debate has to be so difficult for people, to me it seems rather simple. I am appalled to live in a country where companies whose fraudulent schemes to enrich themselves that ultimately destroyed the economy and threw millions of people out of work get hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts, while at the same time honest kids with good grades and a desire to learn get told "sorry", and that the money just "isn't there" for their college.

Our country is in a big mess. Our global empire is collapsing, and a lot of Americans still get maimed, killed, and emotionally traumatized in a seemingly endless war that no one even wants to admit is still occurring. Pretty much every politician seems to be in the pocket of big business. Whatever they say in an election year, they are ALL on the take of lobbyists for big companies, with the possible exception of one or two ineffectual tokens who get trotted out every time someone like me comes along to denounce both parties. We have about as high wealth polarization as we did in 1929, and European countries have greater social mobility than we do.

Our political leaders, the closed nature of the two party system, the censorship and "infotainment" priorities of corporate media have created a nation of silent, fearful dupes, condescendingly referred to as "voters", or "consumers", but always the *passive* recipients of whatever agenda people with money and power want to pitch at us.

We need new ideas, new leaders, new confidence, and new approaches if we are going to get out of this mess and make this a country worth living in again. For that we need educated minds. A society that will pay thousands of dollars to teach someone how to drive a tank or drop bombs from a multi-million dollar aircraft onto some Afghan peasant's shack, but which won't pay for the same person to learn how to be a doctor or a teacher or an engineer, is one whose days are numbered.


-A College Graduate

Monday, April 6, 2009


Is apparently my new nickname at work.

Cassanova was pretty cool:

I like how he didn't give up when imprisoned and escaped!

"'I saw that to accomplish anything I must bring all my physical and moral faculties in play, make the acquaintance of the great and the powerful, exercise strict self-control, and play the chameleon.'Casanova had matured, and this time in Paris, though still depending at times on quick thinking and decisive action, he was more calculating and deliberate..."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Socialists, Out and Proud

I like this article:

Socialists, Out and Proud
Reimagining Socialism: A Nation Forum

By Dave Zirin

April 1, 2009

Socialism's all the rage. "We Are All Socialists Now," Newsweek declares. As the right wing tells it, we're already living in the USSA. But what do self-identified socialists (and their progressive friends) have to say about the global economic crisis? In the March 23 issue, we published Barbara Ehrenreich and Bill Fletcher Jr.'s "Rising to the Occasion" as the opening essay in a forum on "Reimagining Socialism." will feature new replies to their essay over the coming weeks, fostering what we hope will be a spirited dialogue.

I'll never forget interviewing Lester "Red" Rodney, the 96-year-old former sports editor of the Communist Party's newspaper, the Daily Worker. Speaking about the Great Depression, Rodney said, "People who weren't around during the 1930s can't fully grasp what it was like politically. If you weren't some kind of radical or were considered brain-dead, and you probably were!"

As we enter another period defined by electric currents of crisis and hope, Rodney's words come back to hit me like a left hook. The fact that The Nation is publishing this remarkable forum is a testament to the moment. It's time to come out of our political closets and say openly that another world is not only possible but necessary. If we weren't living in these troubled times, the urgency would not be so acute. But we are, and therefore it is.

Ehrenreich and Fletcher are spot on when they write, "...we do understand--and this is one of the things that make us 'socialists' --that the absence of a plan, or at least some sort of deliberative process for figuring out what to do, is no longer an option."

Let the process begin.

As the great historian Howard Zinn wrote on socialism, "There are people fearful of the word, all along the political spectrum. What is important, I think, is not the word, but a determination to hold up before a troubled public those ideas that are both bold and inviting--the more bold, the more inviting."

Of course, we have learned from President Obama's early days that even the most incremental calls for change put you at risk of being labeled a red menace. (My favorite moment was probably when the utterly unhinged Michele Bachmann said that Obama's policies represented "the final leap to socialism.") The right uses it as an all-purpose insult precisely to keep those calling for change skittish and fearful. Stick a red "S" on their chest and watch them squirm. If that is going to be their frayed last line of defense as they defend a sclerotic system, then we shouldn't run from the label but reclaim it.

We reclaim it as Zinn said, by holding up ideas, amidst profound insecurity, that are bold and inviting.

Let's boldly speak about the possibility of living in a country where bankers don't make out like bandits while people lose their homes; where prisons aren't seen as a "growth industry" and healthcare is a right instead of a privilege.

Let's boldly say that ordinary people have the capacity for extraordinary deeds and can run society far more effectively than those who have been looting their pensions and destroying their jobs.

Let's boldly proclaim that teachers are the best people to run schools, that nurses and doctors are the best people to run hospitals and that we can wield the remarkable tools of capital for human need instead of corporate greed. As Jack London wrote, we can "Take these mighty machines and make them ours."

Let's reintroduce a new generation to the dynamic hidden history of radical change from below. Socialism has been associated with top-down, smothering bureaucracies, but there is a different tradition that threads through the defining struggles of the last century: the battles for the eight-hour workday, women's rights, desegregation, LGBT rights and global justice.

The fact that Stalinism and McCarthyism wrecked the Communist Party in this country should not blind us to the fact that it built an organization of 80,000 activists by 1938, without which there would have been no 1934 San Francisco general strike, no UAW, no CIO. The American left's fear of creating its own political party, built on radical principles, remains an obstacle that we must find a way to overcome.

There is no question this will take work. We are talking about reclaiming a proud history of struggle from below while rejecting the part of that history that aligned itself with dictatorial change from on high. But if our ideas are going to have any kind of currency, then we will need more unions, more community groups and more people joined arm in arm that openly stand in the best of the socialist tradition. We will need to be out and proud in the battles to come.

This isn't about crudely calling for socialism at every turn like a broken clock waiting patiently to be right twice a day. That's a great way to not receive a return invitation to the next community meeting. But it is about recognizing that those day-to-day campaigns--whether for the Employee Free Choice Act, marriage rights or racial justice--become more potent if we are animated, as Woody Guthrie sang, by the idea that "There's better world that's a-comin'/ Don't you see."

About Dave Zirin

Dave Zirin is the author of Welcome to the Terrordome: the Pain Politics and Promise of Sports (Haymarket) and the forthcoming A People's History of Sports in the United States (The New Press). and his writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Sports, New York Newsday and The Progressive. He is the host of XM Radio's Edge of Sports Radio.

Contact him at


Apparently the Londoners have decided to trash one of their large banks. That is something to talk about.

Not even a year ago proposing an action like that would seem hopelessly ultra left.... interestingly enough there's probably quite a bit of support for these people now. In "normal" times breaking a few windows seems not to accomplish very much other than allowing a few young kids (and perhaps a few undercover cops) to blow off a little steam... In the context of the widespread outrage against Corporate governments using taxpayer money to bail out their friends who drove the economy into the ground... It sends a real political message. There are, eventually, breaking points...

People push back. Not always in the neatest, most sensible, and pleasant way. But to update a great quote from Maclom X, I'll start listening to Obama and his counter parts in London talk about how we ought to protest 'non-violently' just as soon as he is ready to start 'non-violently' occupying Iraq and Afghanistan.

An article:

I like the "eat the bankers" sign, and whatever other article it was that pointed out how while in London there's CCTV cameras staring at everyone's movement, their government just decided it would be too "invasive" to release the notes from meetings held about the Iraq war in 2003.

I also like the reporting (I'd like to see photos) of arrogant bankers who taunted protesters by waving money at them. Further proof these people are not fit to rule...